Fresh produce industry grapples with Brexit border fallout

British companies are struggling with a large amount of red tape as a result of Brexit, nearly two weeks since the country's final divorce from the European Union.

Senior government minister Michael Gove recently admitted there will be "significant disruption" at the border because of increased bureaucracy that is slowing the flow of freight, which is especially damaging for fresh produce.

Under the Brexit trade deal, which came into force on January 1, UK exporters now face costly and time-consuming paperwork, including customs declarations, regulatory food safety checks and "rules of origin" levies.

The logistics industry is experiencing a major headache with traffic slowing at the border, particularly at the Channel port of Dover

Even before Brexit, traffic had been hit by new Covid-19 border restrictions, as European nations sought to curb spiking infections, particularly from a virulent new strain.

Logistics companies are now trying to curb their dependence on Dover. They are undertaking far longer journeys to reach Ireland, for example, by staying within the European Union to bypass the UK.

Freight had already begun shifting away since the Brexit referendum in 2016, with goods increasingly travelling to eastern English ports, and also via railway.

UK-registered trucks are meanwhile now only allowed one stop in the European Union to unload goods, which has placed tremendous strain on businesses.

Nigel Jenney, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) said: ""Our once seamless and highly effective supply chain will become embroiled in greater levels of official administration to support trade on an ongoing basis.

"The full impact is yet to be felt by the industry," he added.

Source: Bloomberg